Nuoc Cham, a Vietnamese dipping sauce made with fish sauce and lime juice, makes a great dressing for rice noodles. I like to cook the noodles and stir together the dressing the night before, that way it is done and the noodles have had a chance to soak in the dressing, becoming more flavorful. An added plus is that the next day’s cooking simply involves tearing some fresh mint and basil, slicing the vegetables, and adding in already cooked tofu, shrimp, or chicken—I like using the sweet chile tofu slabs from the Co-Op salad bar but cooked shrimp or cooked marinated chicken would be good too (the Co-Op and Whole Foods have some good selections—grill more than you need one night and you can use the leftovers in this salad a couple days later).
Adapted from my Nuoc Cham post from a few years back and Jamie at Drive Me Hungry who reminded me about this perfect summer meal through her search optimized recipe, “Quick and Easy Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Tangy Dressing.”
Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad
- 7 ounces rice noodles, vermicelli-thin 200 grams
- ½ cup water
- 5 tbsp fish sauce Red Boat
- 4 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 clove garlic, minced optional
- 1 Thai chile, thinly sliced crosswise optional
- 2 bunches tender herb leaves like basil, mint, and cilantro, leaves stripped from the stems about 2 cups; Italian parsley and tarragon would be good in the mix as well
- 4 sturdy vegetables, julienned: carrot, cucumber, red/yellow/orange bell pepper, Hakurei turnips, snow peas, or sugar snap peas about 2 cups
- 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
- ½ lime
Toppings: chopped peanuts, cooked marinated tofu, shrimp, or chicken (score if you find this prepared for you!)
Soak noodles in a pot of water while you stir together the nuoc cham. Stir dressing until sugar is dissolved.
Set the noodle pot over moderate heat and bring to boil. Cook just until noodles are flexible, about 2 to 3 minutes—refer to package instructions. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a bowl that will fit in your refrigerator. Drizzle the nuoc cham over the noodles, toss to evenly coat and refrigerate overnight.
The next day just before serving, tear herb leaves and scatter over noodles. Add julienned vegetables and sliced jalapeño. Combine gently, squeeze with half a lime, and serve with cooked marinated tofu, shrimp, or chicken.